Telecommunications Primer: Data, Voice and Video Communications, 2nd Edition

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  • BOOK REVIEW.

    Telecommunications Primer: Data, Voice and Video Communications, 2nd Edition

    E. Bryan Carne 1999 Prentice Hall PTR 823+xxiii pages, $72.00

    The Telecommunications Primer is a must-have reference for every professional working in the exploding field of telecommunications. This book is now in its second edition, 40% larger and including 100 new diagrams as well as several new topics that have emerged since the prior publication in 1995.

    The emphasis is on breadth of coverage, but certainly not at the expense of depth. The author does an excellent job of surveying the field,

    starting with a historical perspective and then swiftly moving through the technical topics. For each topic sufficient depth is provided for the reader to understand the concept fully and refer to more-specialized books for the details. In fact, this book is not just a primer but rather a reference handbook on telecommunications systems, from legacy telephone systems to wireless and optical networks to proprietary enterprise networks.

    Each section begins with basic concepts, definitions, and introductory notions, but the author quickly moves on to diagrams and equations that formalize the concepts. For example, the chapter on signal modulation includes a comprehensive description of the most widely used binary signal formats, including equations, waveforms, and spectra of the signals. All figures are clear and easy to understand.

    A whole chapter is dedicated to the open systems architecture (OSA), with detailed descriptions of several protocols, leading into chapters on telephone, data, and wireless networks. Network topologies receive similar breadth of treatment. The coverage is exhaustive: in terms of the media, from coax to optical fiber, wireless and satellite communications; in terms of the application, from voice to data (including personal services, enterprise wide networks, and videoconferencing); and in terms of transfer modes, from synchronous to asynchronous.

    For the optical communications professional, this is not the book that will reveal the latest on optical networks. It will, however, give the big picture of how fiber-optic systems and networks interface with their copper, satellite, and wireless counterparts. For example, information about SONET is not presented in a single block but rather is distributed. Transport rates and framing structure are covered in a chapter about transfer modes; then architectures, in the chapter about telephone networks; and so on. This makes it very easy to grasp the big picture rather than the dry details of a particular technology.

    In particular, the book places emphasis on network architectures rather than on physical layer issues (although basic fiber-optics-related issues such as wavelength division multiplexing and optical amplifiers are briefly covered). For the reader interested in how a telephone network operates (with details on everything from the hierarchy of

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  • signaling devices down to traffic, queuing, and call-blocking probabilities), or how SONET is interfaced with T1 lines, this book is the answer.

    Overall, the book is well organized, with many diagrams and with a list of review questions at the end of each chapter. At the end of the book are a comprehensive list of acronyms; an extensive glossary of most-useful terms; and an index, which greatly facilitates the retrieval of information. Given the textbook type of presentation, only a small number of references are included, all of them in footnotes throughout the text. Appropriately, such references are most often fundamental books or papers in the field, rather than recent research results.

    In today's rapidly evolving telecommunications landscape, the Primer is a storehouse of information for professionals working in the field and for managers using the technologies. I highly recommend the book as a one-stop place where one can find answers to all the big-picture telecommunications-related questions or find the start of many paths for further exploration.

    Bogdan Hoanca Phaethon Communications Fremont, California

    2002 Optical Society of America

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